Decrepit monorail, Cambridge, Ohio.

Monorail Crashes Again

Seattle's mile-long monorail, a legacy of it's "Man in the Space Age" 1962 World's Fair, is out of service at least until the end of 2005. Its two trains sideswiped each other on November 26, sending glass and at least one door flying to the street below. Passengers had to be evacuated down fire truck ladders. There are no replacement trains.

The monorail originally ran from the Seattle Space Needle (another legacy of the fair) to just north of Pine Street, but in the late 1980s the route was shortened to end at a new downtown mall. That redesign created a spot where the tracks converge -- and on November 26 the two trains were on that spot at the same time.

This is not the first calamity for the monorail. A May 2004 fire aboard one of the trains injured eight and shut the line down for more than six months. And in 1971 the braking system on the other train failed and it crashed into a girder, injuring 26.

The Seattle monorail is second-oldest in America, trailing only Disneyland's. Its top speed of 50 mph is the highest in the U.S., which helps to explain why this once-futurific form of transportation has never caught on.

Earlier this month, Seattle voters rejected a proposal to extend the monorail to 10 miles, at a projected cost of $1.84 billion.

Sorry, no photo of Seattle's monorail mayhem -- but here's fine one spotted at a decaying amusement park in Cambridge, Ohio.

[11/29/2005]
Address:
5th Ave., Seattle, WA
Directions:
Runs on 5th Ave. for about a mile between the Space Needle and the Westlake Center Mall.
Phone:
206-905-2620
Admission:
Adults $3.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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